A 10 player Newcastle Jets have produced a gutsy performance to deny Perth Glory a home win and spoil Shannon May's centenary celebrations in a 2-2 draw.
A pre-game presentation by Glory owner Tony Sage was a fitting way to mark a century of games for May, and her teammates were determined to mark the occasion with a win.
This was never going to be an easy task against a Jets team peppered with internationals and Matildas, but Glory were fired up and flew out of the blocks.
It came as no surprise that the first goal of the game arrived after only three minutes through 16-year-old Young Matilda Leticia McKenna. She capitalised on Newcastle’s inability to clear their lines from a corner and smashed the ball home off the underside of the bar.
This early pressure from Glory was testing the back three of the Jets, and they struggled to cope with the swift counter attacks of Glory, but the Jets superiority in numbers in midfield started to pay dividends after the early storm, and they levelled the score in the 16th minute.
A superb through ball from Taylor Smith found Katie Stengel, who finished with a strike of real venom.
A minute later they were ahead, and it was the Smith-Stengel combination that again produced the goal, albeit a little, fortunately, as it appeared to be a mishit shot from Smith that Stengel diverted into the Glory net.
With van Egmond starting to boss the midfield, Newcastle were on the ascendancy at this point, but the game turned on its head in the 25th minute when Sam Kerr was bundled over in the box by Larissa Crummer. The referee pointed to the spot and followed this up with a controversial red card for Crummer. Sam Kerr thrashed the ball into the net from the spot and it was all square.
Despite having an extra player, Glory were unable to make the advantage count and for long periods of the game the 10 players of Newcastle more than held their own.
They were still grateful that their keeper Britt Eckerstrom was in great form though, as she was required to pull off some excellent saves to earn them the point, and none were better than the one that denied Kerr in the 60th minute when she went one on one with the Glory superstar.
The Jets were not without a threat either though and Glory stopper Eliza Campbell had to be alert to prevent Jenna Kingsley from putting them ahead in the 55th minute.
As the match moved into its final stages, Glory struggled to get into any rhythm with their passing whilst the Jets were defending with real skill.
A final throw of the dice saw May push forward and she was nearly rewarded with a goal with a rasping shot which hit the post and somehow managed to stay out.
The result means that Glory remains undefeated and stay second in the table, whilst the Jets stay just outside the top four.
After the game, both coaches expressed their disappointment with the way the game had gone.
“Football is about people paying money to come and see it and playing 11 v 11 and if we had won the game or lost the game, I’d still make the same comment, so that’s disappointing,” said Jets coach Craig Deans.
“The performance of 10 players for 75 minutes I thought was unbelievable, but probably a draw was fair in terms of the number of shots on target that Perth had in the second half.”
Glory coach Bobby Despotovski was disappointed that his players didn’t take advantage of the extra player.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t adapt to everything that we spoke about at halftime” he said.
“When you play against 10 men you sometimes get a false sense of security. Let’s lump it and start fighting there and that’s the easiest way for the 10 men to defend.”